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Why Personal Beliefs are Irrelevant

Updated on December 30, 2011

Because I Can Think For Myself

Why Don't You Just Believe Me?


Don’t you just hate it when someone you know goes on and on about how great a particular music group is, simply because they got to go to their concert, go backstage, and meet them in person? I mean, you know this group sucks. They have horrible music. Maybe they are the flavor of the week, or maybe they are just fading out, but this person you know claims that they are the absolute best. Is it because she really thinks they are the best, or because of the personal experience she had in meeting them? Had she never gone to their concert or gone backstage, would she still be making such a fuss?

The point is, however, that you hate this group, and you are sick and tired of hearing this person praise them. Does the fact that you hate the band, or the fact that your friend adores them, bear any impact at all on how good the band really is? What would a neutral third party turn to in order to ascertain whether or not this band is really bad or good? Hmm…how about their record sales? Would that be a good indicator?

YES. In fact, that would be a RELIABLE indicator based on hard facts. So, why couldn’t the third party just talk to you, or to your friend, and make a decision based on that? Well, that’s the tricky part, see, because how could this third party make a decision based on personal beliefs and opinions? They are as numerous as there are people in the world and just because a majority might be in somewhat of an agreement, it might not support the facts.

But MY Experience Was Real

Of course it was--to you. To someone else, it might seem a bit deluded. But let’s go back to our first questions. What if your friend ONLY thinks the music group is the best BECAUSE she had a personal experience with them? Does that make her opinion any less valid? I mean, she can attest to the good time she had in attending their concert, listening to their music, and meeting them backstage, so why is it even an issue?

I gather that if every single person that attended that same concert had the exact same experience as she did, and came away feeling exactly the same as your friend, it wouldn’t be much of an issue. The problem is that not everyone had fun. Not everyone that attended liked the band. Some just went for the heck of it. Others took a girl in hopes of getting laid later. And many did not even make it backstage. So everyone came away with a different personal experience. If a third party were to poll every person that attended the concert, he might have a good idea of what the band is all about, what kind of music they play, and maybe even if they are any good at a live performance, but none of that might match up with his personal likes. And the fact that his personal likes might not include this band still bears no importance on whether or not they can sell records.

The Value Placed on Belief

We have been taught to value beliefs from a very early age. To believe in something is great! So personal beliefs have, of course, been given the supreme status. Why wold anyone doubt them? On the other hand, not having beliefs, or not being swayed by them, is seen as a flaw. How could anyone not read a miraculous tale like that of the Virgen de Guadalupe and NOT be moved by it? How can anyone not just BELIEVE that god exists? It says so in the bible. Beliefs are a form of currency that the spiritual world deals in, and not having your own, means you are left out.

You Can't Argue With Facts

The point is personal beliefs and experiences are irrelevant. This story could go on and on and on and no one would ever be able to determine whether or not this band is any good. One would have to see, or hear for themselves, but even then, that would only serve in determining whether or not THEY like the band, and not if the band is really good.

I often find myself having to explain this concept to many people in regards to things such as miracles or beliefs in gods, religions, or any other such nonsense, but not because their beliefs are nonsense—because they are using their beliefs as proof of why a concept is real—and THAT is utter nonsense. The reason why personal beliefs, experiences, and interpretations of ideas, figures and events, are irrelevant is because there is no one belief, experience, or interpretation that can be used as a measuring stick for all other beliefs, experiences, and interpretations. The only things that are concrete are facts and evidence.

Don’t get me wrong, it is very possible to form opinions and personal ideas on a topic, but can you use those as a standard for all other’s opinions or ideas? Even more important, can you use your personal beliefs to dispute hard facts and evidence? The answer is quite simply, no. It is a hard truth for some, but it is the truth, and denying it won’t make it any less true.

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    • RevRainbowlady profile image

      RevRainbowlady 5 years ago from New Alexandria

      Your example doesn't seem to make much sense to me. Music, like art, is totally subjective. I personally don't find any value in modern paintings: the black dot in a white field type paintings. There's no talent in that, IMHO. And just because a majority of people don't agree with me, and just because the artists makes millions each year does NOT make him a "good" artist. It makes him a rich artist. Whether he is "good" or not is totally subjective. Likewise, a band's record sales only indicate how much money they're able to get from the public, who are so willing to act like lemmings and follow the "flavor of the day" by buying their CDs. Whether they're good or not depends on the views of the listener.

      "What if your friend ONLY thinks the music group is the best BECAUSE she had a personal experience with them? Does that make her opinion any less valid?"

      NOTHING can make her opinion any less valid because opinions are ALWAYS valid: for the person holding them.

      "So everyone came away with a different personal experience."

      Which they would have done even if everyone enjoyed themselves and everyone got to go backstage and meet the band and talk to them. Because HOW they experience that experience depends on all the past experiences of their lives. And on their personal beliefs. And on the mood they're in that day. And on a whole lot of other factors that can't be measured in any quantifiable manner.

      "And the fact that his personal likes might not include this band still bears no importance on whether or not they can sell records."

      And whether they can sell records is not an indication of whether or not they're a good band.

      "On the other hand, not having beliefs, or not being swayed by them, is seen as a flaw."

      By who? Everyone has beliefs. Even if you believe that there is no God, it is still a belief because it cannot be proven. And that is what belief is: believing without proof or even in spite of "scientific proof".

      "Beliefs are a form of currency that the spiritual world deals in, and not having your own, means you are left out."

      Everyone has beliefs. So no one is left out.

      "The point is personal beliefs and experiences are irrelevant."

      That is your opinion. My opinion says otherwise. In fact, my beliefs say "As you believe, so shall it be."

      "I often find myself having to explain this concept to many people in regards to things such as miracles or beliefs in gods, religions, or any other such nonsense, but not because their beliefs are nonsense—because they are using their beliefs as proof of why a concept is real—and THAT is utter nonsense."

      Consider this, if you will.

      Someone believes in creationism and says that the earth is only 6000 years old and was created by an omnipotent God. You show them data from carbon dating that "proves" otherwise. However, if their belief is true (and they cannot prove it is anymore than you can prove it is not), then it is entirely possible that an omnipotent God could create a universe that would, in every aspect and down to the very minutest of details, appear to be billions of years old because he is omnipotent! All powerful. Can do anything! So you're not going to sway someone's beliefs with "scientific proof" because faith is belief without proof or in spite of "evidence" to the contrary.

      "The reason why personal beliefs, experiences, and interpretations of ideas, figures and events, are irrelevant is because there is no one belief, experience, or interpretation that can be used as a measuring stick for all other beliefs, experiences, and interpretations."

      So? Who says there needs to be one? It is a personal experience. Why would you think there has to be a "universal yardstick" for personal experience?

      "The only things that are concrete are facts and evidence."

      The only thing that is concrete is that nothing is concrete.

      "Don’t get me wrong, it is very possible to form opinions and personal ideas on a topic, but can you use those as a standard for all other’s opinions or ideas?"

      Is that not what you are doing right now? Saying that personal beliefs don't matter because they don't matter to you so you don't think they should matter to anyone?

      "Even more important, can you use your personal beliefs to dispute hard facts and evidence?"

      Yes, you can. If I tell you today is December 30, 2011, and you happen to be Jewish, you may come up with a different year and month and day. Does that make you wrong? No. Because faith cannot, and should not, be swayed by "facts".

      "It is a hard truth for some, but it is the truth, and denying it won’t make it any less true."

      Again, this is your opinion. ANd it seems to me that you're doing to others what you seem so upset that they're doing to you. It's your personal opinion that facts can't be swayed by faith.....

      Love and Light,

      RevRainbowlady

    • Ore N. Mavro profile image

      Ore N. Mavro 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      I totally agree. It took me a long time to realize it but even as far as music "snobs" go (and I was almost one--unwarranted-ly), I think "'good' 'taste'" is really subjective.

      As far as spiritual experiences go, I've also learned that people tend to hold to them, in their lives, what is most real--to them. Something that has worked or they've felt the reality of.

    • emmaspeaks profile image
      Author

      emmaspeaks 5 years ago from Kansas City

      RevRainbowlady, the first part of your comment actually reiterates what I said in my article. It IS subjective, so are personal opinions and beliefs. That is the very point I tried to make, so if you got that much out if it, I feel accomplished.

      Ore N. Mavro, thanks for agreeing with me. Yes, everyone has had personal experiences that mean something to them, and that is why they are irrelevant to someone elses personal experiences.

      Thanks for the comments guys!

    • Philanthropy2012 profile image

      DK 5 years ago from London

      Hey Emma, great hub, shame you got there before I did though haha!

      @RevRainbow:

      Faith is believing in something for no reason.

      Personal experiences are valid to that person but not to anyone else, and so are irrelevant in any discussion regarding the existence of something.

      "By who? Everyone has beliefs. Even if you believe that there is no God, it is still a belief because it cannot be proven. And that is what belief is: believing without proof or even in spite of "scientific proof"

      If you don't believe in the monotheistic God (Christian/Islamic/Jewish God), you are most likely using logic (omnipotence and omniscience can't happen at the same time) or science (evolution is a fact so genesis is wrong) to come to that conclusion.

      There is no faith there, just fact, and it's not a personal opinion of yours, it's fact.

      For not believing in a creator however (who some would argue should not be called "God" because that chimes with Christianity)and being an outright atheist there lies faith too.

      That is however considering the idea that The Big Bang could be called "God" because it created us.

      God being defined as

      "A force, effect, or a manifestation or aspect of this being"

      http://www.thefreedictionary.com/god

      So in retrospect, being a theist is blind faith and is much like beliving in Santa Claus.

      And:

      Disregarding blind faith and theism is much like not believing in Santa Claus (athiesm)

      but there's always the chance that something like santa claus exists, so it's faith to assume there isn't a likely alternative that isn't theism.

      That said, theism is wrong outright and is disproven by facts and logic.

      Atheists may be wrong that there isn't another type of God that could logically exist.

      Deists might be wrong by believing the vis versa.

    • emmaspeaks profile image
      Author

      emmaspeaks 5 years ago from Kansas City

      Great comment, Philanthropy2012! Thank you for responding to RevRainbow. I got banned for 7 days the last time I "argued" with someone who made a comment on another hub, so I decided to stay away from the more pressing issues. You did a great job of nailing it, though. I think I'll be a coward for a while, at least until I feel safe to comment again. Hubpages is pretty strict I guess.

    • Philanthropy2012 profile image

      DK 5 years ago from London

      Haha thanks EmmaSpeaks! I just came off a 1 day ban from the forums for arguing with a creationist :L How funny. And no problem :)

    • Ore N. Mavro profile image

      Ore N. Mavro 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Ya know Philanthropy2012, I thought the same thing, and I still do. That the "Big Bang" and even "Evolution" was the method of "creation". So that things would come into a sort of "order" and also that the creatures most able to, would ascend to the "ruling" of the planet we reside on.

      Personally I believe in a creator. I don't know her/his/it's intentions, but I know it exists. But lots of people try to tell me (LOL). And I still get plenty upset when they try to shove what they think at me even when I tell them I'm a skeptic by nature. Honestly, though I kind of envy their nature or I guess proclivity to feel and accept it totally, in whatever "sign" may come to them.

      But ironically, in my skeptic observance of things I've begun to see "God" and "Gods"...just not how the people who have tried to convert me to whatever theology they believe in have probably wished.

      I think this post and our mini-arguments (which aren't much hardcore) are totally what we need to talk about. I think we all intrinsically believe in *something*.

    • Claire Evans profile image

      Claire Evans 5 years ago from South Africa

      I agree with your hub. However, the great thing about personal experiences with the Holy Spirit is that you don't have to convince anyone else of it. It will never be proof that the Holy Spirit exists but no one else has to be convinced but oneself.

    • emmaspeaks profile image
      Author

      emmaspeaks 5 years ago from Kansas City

      Great comments, Claire and Ore! Now, Ore, I can totally appreciate your feelings. I am a former Christian, but I have always been a skeptic. That's why I am an atheist today. But that is exactly the message this hub is trying to get out. Your personal experiences have led you to believe that there is a creator. Nothing I can say or do will change how you feel, and that's fine. The issue arises when someone wants to argue against a fact using their own personal experiences. That's when I have to disagree.

      Claire, you make a very good point, as well. I agree, you don't have to convince anybody of anything, and as long as you don't try to convince me that your personal experience has any bearings on the validity of a fact, we are good.

    • Claire Evans profile image

      Claire Evans 5 years ago from South Africa

      That's the way it should be, Emma!

    • profile image

      Frierva 5 years ago

      I thought your article had some profound and interesting insights into the dissimilarities of everyone's conscience. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and keep writing!!

    • profile image

      lxdollarsxl 5 years ago

      Personal beliefs are irrelevant to others but that is the way it should be, just as our beliefs are relevant to us and no one should try to change them.

    • Skeptical Theist profile image

      Skeptical Theist 4 years ago from Wichita, Kansas

      We are meaning-making machines. From our earliest years we begin constructing meaning of the world around us. Psychology refers to our personal constructions of meaning as "schemata." Schemata is nothing short of each individual's belief system about the world around them and their relationship to that world.

      Belief is actually incredibly relevant for at least one reason. Every thought and many subsequent actions of any given human being are filtered through what they believe about their world and their relation to that world.

      Belief based on fact is really knowledge, which we tend to know based on more precise sciences (e. g. those we can perceive with our basic five senses, thus run tests upon). Belief based on a thesis or hypothesis often remains mere belief when we are constructing our understanding of such things that are less concrete...more abstract, e. g. psychology or philosophy.

      However you slice it, our beliefs play a large role in our motives. Take your beliefs about a certain colleague. Perhaps you believe the best in her, thus you treat her accordingly. Say you she does something odd and you begin to grow suspicious of her...your suspicion grows into doubts about her. You begin to believe the worst about her. I guarantee your beliefs about her will fairly nearly dictate your conduct when you are with her. If you are normal, you will change how you deal with this colleague...all based upon your changed beliefs about her.

      Just thoughts

      ST

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